The Mighty Bakken Bites Back

Defying the trend in declining rig counts, daily volumes in the Bakken are climbing higher to the point of a record for gas production at an all-time high of 1.63 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in May.

Well completions also increased from 102 to an early count of 114, which coincided with previous estimates by Wood Mackenzie Ltd.

Jonathan Garrett, WoodMac’s principal Bakken analyst, said the most interesting data point was the fact that despite oil bring priced in the $50 per barrel range and that the rig count is down by 60 percent, production is still increasing at the Bakken in both oil and gas.

Operators have achieved this with three primary approaches: drilling only in the acreage’s sweet spot—this means no testing around the perimeter; rig efficiency with high horsepower; and better completion rates, Garrett said. What’s more, during the second half of the year, operators will be whittling down the drilled but uncompleted wells and that will further add to the stack.

In fact, a spokesman for WoodMac said while other firms have released expectations that Bakken production will roll over this year as a consequence of the recurring drop in rig counts, the firm has said the acreage grading and more efficient drilling and completion services will enable modest production growth in the North Dakota basin.

In an industry view last year, WoodMac noted the Bakken is the most productive pure crude oil play in the U.S. with oil volumes averaging one million barrels per day (bpd). It’s been estimated the Bakken attracted more than $15 billion in CAPEX development in 2014.

Preliminary figures for May 2015 show that daily oil volumes rose by 32,000 bpd.

A spokesman for WoodMac said the play’s key operators are expected to increase the number of rigs targeting the Bakken before the end of this year.

An award-winning journalist, Deon has reported on energy, business and politics for almost 20 years. Email Deon at


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